LONDON (Reuters) - European Union countries struggling to meet their 2020 renewable targets are likely to buy renewable energy from their neighbours to cut costs, an EU official said on Thursday.
Only Norway and Sweden have so far signed such an agreement but Joachim Balke, policy officer at the European Commission’s energy unit said he expects more to strike similar pacts.
“We do have some member states ... approaching us, which are looking for partners to cooperate,” he said at an industry event in London.
As a part of an EU goal to generate 20 percent of its final energy consumption from renewable sources, each member state has its own renewable energy target.
In the latest interim report, published by the Commission in 2013, Britain, the Netherlands, Malta, Luxembourg, Latvia and France have so far failed to meet their indicative trajectories for reaching their 2020 targets.
Balke said as 2020 approaches, countries are more likely to turn to so-called renewable energy trading to meet their goals.
“Some member states are now reaching the point where it becomes relatively expensive to continue on their national trajectory only using national resources (to meet renewable targets), so in a sense the urgency to use these mechanisms is starting to become bigger,” he said.
Under the EU rules, if a country cannot source enough renewable energy domestically to meet its target, it can buy renewable energy from a country which is exceeding its goals to make up the shortfall.
Britain and Ireland started discussions about entering a renewable power pact but fell short of agreeing a deal earlier this year after deciding more work needed to be done.
The Commission wants to develop a EU-wide renewables market but faced a setback in July when the EU’s Court of Justice ruled that EU member states can continue to limit renewables support schemes to within their national borders.
“It’s not easy, it’s a question of communicating these things with the public. It’s not always easy to convince your public at home that you should support something that is outside your territory,” Balke said.
The Commission has suggested scrapping nationally-binding renewables targets after 2030 but member states appear keen to extend co-operation on renewables to meet an overall EU target for 2030, according to a draft of a European Council agreement on 2030 goals seen by Reuters this week.
“Cooperation mechanisms will be modified in order to maximise the benefits from intra-European trade in renewable energy through national cooperation,” the draft said.
Reporting By Susanna Twidale, additional reporting by Ben Garside, editing by David Evans